There are 28 hospitals in or near Rockford, Illinois, with some of the highest-rated hospitals, including SwedishAmerican Hospital, Mercyhealth Javon Bea Hospital - Rockton, and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. One thing each of the hospitals and clinics in the Rockford region has in common is that the law requires their providers to make reasonable decisions to protect their patients from becoming injured due to medical errors.
Of all the types of errors that can occur at the hands of licensed health care providers, perhaps the most concerning involve injuries to infants during the birth process. If your child suffered a birth injury due to a health care provider's negligence, you can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of that injury.
An experienced Rockford birth injury lawyer from Zayed Law Offices can guide you through this process and assist you with your claim. We are not afraid to take on big providers and their teams of attorneys, whether the negligence that injured your baby took place at SwedishAmerican Hospital, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, Mercyhealth, or any other area healthcare facility.
What Are Birth Injuries?
Birth can be a rough process for many infants, and even if this process goes as planned, it is not unusual for injuries to the child to occur. This danger is particularly true when the infant is premature or abnormally large. A premature infant is even more delicate and prone to injury than one at full term, and larger babies carry a higher risk of getting caught in the birth canal.
Unfortunately, medical negligence can also cause birth injuries. These injuries can result in serious harm, permanent disability, or even cause the infant to die. Below, we provide more information about birth injuries due to a health care provider's careless or reckless actions.
Types of Medical Errors That Can Result in a Birth Injury Claim
Birth injury claims fall under the general legal practice area of medical malpractice, defined as the failure of a health care provider to provide appropriate treatment, failure to take appropriate action, or providing substandard care, resulting in injury to a patient.
Not all bad outcomes to a medical procedure—including birth—result from an error, as some injuries are simply a known procedure risk. Additionally, not all errors give rise to a medical malpractice claim. You can only file a claim if an injury or death occurred due to the error.
Improper Use of Birthing Tools
Doctors use certain devices to assist in delivering a baby, including vacuum suction and forceps. If misapplied, these devices can place too much pressure on the infant's head or neck, resulting in injury.
Failing to Perform a C-Section When Medically Indicated
Nearly one-third of all U.S. births occur due to a cesarean section. A quarter of these births include mothers and infants at low risk of developing complications during vaginal delivery. However, despite the focus on unnecessary C-sections, there are severe risks of not having a C-section.
Health care providers are required to monitor the progress of the mother's labor, including performing diagnostic tests to ensure that the mother and child are not suffering any medical complications that would cause harm to the infant during vaginal delivery. Failing to monitor the mother and child or to diagnose conditions that would indicate the medical need for a C-section can result in a lack of oxygen or blood flow to the infant's brain, which can cause permanent brain injuries.
Failing to Diagnose an Issue with the Mother or Child that Resulted in Complications
Maternal-fetal monitoring is not something that begins at delivery but, rather, a process that occurs throughout the pregnancy to increase the chance of the child and mother emerging from the birth process healthy.
Medical providers meet with the mother through the pregnancy, generally performing several tests to diagnose medical issues such as gestational diabetes, intrauterine growth restriction, and many more. Failing to perform the tests established by the facility's policy or regarded as the general standard of care can cause medical professionals to miss these conditions.
Failing to Recognize Signs of Fetal Distress
An infant must be monitored during the birth process and in the hours following the process to ensure that they can adequately breathe and eat. Failing to recognize the signs of fetal distress during birth or in the hours following can result in oxygen deprivation. Often, fetal distress during the hours after delivery can worsen with time, even after the infant has been released from the hospital and no longer has access to medical intervention.
Misdiagnosing a Life-Threatening Issue as a Less Serious Condition
Misdiagnosis is another common cause of birth injuries that give rise to a medical malpractice claim.
Some of the common causes of maternal or fetal misdiagnosis include:
- Failure to collect a complete maternal medical history that would indicate the likelihood that symptoms would be related to an inherited disorder
- Missing obvious signs of maternal conditions that can result in premature birth or risks to the infant, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or jaundice and chalk symptoms
- Failure to detect the baby's position or large size that would impact the ability of the mother to deliver the child naturally
Prescription Errors that Cause Harm to the Infant
Prescription errors are one of the most common reasons for medical malpractice claims. Prescription errors that can injure a newborn infant include the wrong dosage of medication or the wrong kind of medication to treat the newborn's condition.
Frequently Asked Questions About Filing a Rockford Birth Injury Claim
Medical malpractice is a complex area of the law and often creates many questions. Below are some common questions about filing a birth injury claim in Rockford.
How long do I have to file a birth injury claim in Rockford?
In Illinois, medical malpractice claimants have two years from the date on which the injury occurred or when they discover or reasonably should have discovered the injury. Your attorney will advise you if your claim warrants an extended deadline under Illinois law.
How do I prove who was liable for my child's injury?
To obtain compensation for your child's birth injury, you must be able to prove that someone else was liable. In Illinois, liable parties in a medical malpractice claim can include doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacists, and others tasked with providing medical treatment or medication to you and your child.
To prove liability, you must show these elements:
- A provider-patient relationship existed between the provider and the mother/child.
- The provider acted or failed to take the actions that a similarly positioned provider would have taken in the same circumstances.
- The provider's actions resulted in an injury to the mother or child during the birth process.
- The mother or child incurred expenses or losses from those injuries. Or the injury created the likelihood that the mother or child will experience additional injury-related expenses in the future.
What is an affidavit of merit, and how does it impact my claim?
If you file your medical malpractice claim in court, Illinois law requires your attorney to submit an affidavit of merit with the claim. This affidavit certifies that the affiant (your attorney) has reviewed your case with a qualified health professional who knows the medical issues at issue in the claim. This professional must practice or teach in the same area of medicine that the case involves and have proper qualifications in terms of experience. After reviewing this case with the professional, your attorney must state a reasonable cause to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
This affidavit is a vital document for your claim. If the statute of limitations approaches, your attorney may file the claim without an affidavit so long as they produce one within 90 days after filing.
My child died as a result of a birth injury. Is there compensation available?
Yes. You can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your loss through a wrongful death claim. Like medical malpractice claims, you must generally file the claim within two years to retain your right to pursue compensation in court. A court-appointed representative of the infant's estate must file the claim.
The type of compensation you can receive includes:
- Medical expenses incurred as a result of the birth injury.
- Funeral and burial or cremation expenses.
- Grief, sorrow, and mental suffering.
What type of compensation can I seek through a birth injury claim?
If your child suffered a birth injury as a result of medical negligence, the type of compensation you can receive includes:
- Past medical expenses for treating the injury, as well as ongoing medical care to address lifelong complications of the injury
- The provision of long-term facility care or home health aides to assist with the child's care
- Special education or assistive devices such as a wheelchair
- Parent's lost wages from missing work or quitting their job to address their child's medical needs
- Physical pain and suffering or mental distress suffered by the child from their injury
I can't afford a lawyer. Can I pursue a Rockford birth injury claim on my own?
No. Medical malpractice claims, including the affidavit of merit, high-powered malpractice insurers, and negative public perception, make these cases more complex than most.
Fortunately, worrying about how to afford a lawyer isn't an issue that should concern you. Most personal injury lawyers, including those from Zayed Law Office's Rockford birth injury legal team, work on a contingent-fee basis.
The contingent fee means you only have to pay for your legal services if there is a positive outcome to your claim. If you decide to begin working with our firm, we will enter into a contingent-fee agreement. This agreement states that in exchange for our services, you agree to pay us a percentage of the proceeds from your negotiated settlement or award, and no payment is due upfront.
Not sure if you have a claim we can pursue? We also offer free case evaluations, which are a time for you to discuss the details of your case with an experienced Rockford birth injury attorney, learn more about the medical malpractice claims process, and explore the legal options available to you.
These two services ensure that anyone who needs our help has access to it.
Our Rockford Birth Injury Lawyers Can Help With Your Claim
Formed in 2009 by founder and managing attorney Adam J. Zayed, Zayed Law Offices seeks a complete remedy for their clients' losses, whether that remedy occurs through settlement negotiations or trial.
We have handled many highly complex cases in Illinois and have the resources and experience to tackle these claims. Winning for our clients and helping ease the distressing experience you are going through motivates us.